We hold world records in illiteracy, poverty and disease





During the 1965 war, Brig Afandi, reputed to be an expert on Tank Battle tactics, was attached to the Tank Division by President Ayub Khan as an advisor to Divisional Commander Gen Ibrar. The battle had hardly begun when Afandi signaled to the President that Indians were far too many and strong and Pakistan should sue for peace. When General Ibrar came to know of this signal, he threw him out of his command post and waited for the orders from the President. The President obviously fired Afandi at once and told him to leave Sialkot soonest.

Later, General Ibrar’s division fought the greatest tank battle in history – greater than any in World War II. He pushed the enemy back from where it came, having inflicted heavy losses both in men and material.

Imran Khan’s recent statement that former army chief Gen Ashfaq Kayani had told him in the presence of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that there were only 40 percent chances of success of a military operation against the Taliban, and therefore negotiations were the only option, reminded me of the above incident.

In the 1971 war, General Iftikhar Janjua’s division was given the mission of attacking the Indian troops across Chamb Jaurian sector in west Pakistan.

Many, many years later, an Indian officer complained in an article that Pakistan Army had employed the most ruthless general against their troops that they had ever faced. “Then one drizzling evening as the grueling battle entered into dusk and began to take on the blanket of night, the guns on either side suddenly gave up roaring. The battle field was overwhelmed by a deadly silence leading to the ghastly fear of the unknown. This inconceivable dread is a familiar phenomenon to all battle scarred soldiers. The one that sends cold sweat across the spine and bears heavily on the nerves of both young and old alike. Time slows down, turning seconds into minutes and minutes into unending hours. Everyone thus anxiously awaited the infallible verdict of the war witches. At last the silence was broken by an ear splitting lightning and thunder, it was followed by the news – the dreaded General was dead! Thus relieving the pain of quiet and anguish of all Indian soldiers of all ranks.”

Recently I met an officer of a unit that had served under General Iftikhar. He said: “Ruthless is hardly the word describing that fearless, stolid, unbending general. Failure in battle was something he never accepted whatever the cost.” The officer said that his unit went into attack against a well dug-in tenacious Indian unit a number of times, but failed to reach the objective, even after suffering heavy casualties. But the general would not accept the failure. After more than fifteen attempts, the unit did manage to capture the objective.  In this operation, the unit lost 158 troops.

A lot of water has passed under the bridges of the BRBL canal since then. The Taliban have been highly successful in creating fear and lowering the morale of our people. They have successfully carried out deadly attacks on men, women, and children of all creeds and as well as the security forces. But I have faith that our security forces will be able to subdue them.

Lt Col (r) KM Ismail,


How to fight terror



Pakistan is fighting terrorism for the last 10 years without much success. The basic reason behind this failure is an absence of a comprehensive counter terrorism strategy which in itself is the result of lack of conceptual clarity, vision, sincerity of purpose, and resolve.

The debate about whether peace will be achieved through negotiations or a military operation has created an impression that the terrorism and extremism will end either by successful talks with, or military operations against the Taliban.

Taliban are just a factor and not the only factor responsible for the present state of affairs in the country, although their terrorist activities must be stopped with immediate and stern action. However, the exclusive and exploitative socio-economic, religious-sectarian, foreign-internal policies and corruption of the rulers since 1947 are the real causes of the discontentment, frustration, and loss of hope and confidence in the country amongst the masses. This situation created the ideal conditions for the emergence of TTP and other terrorist groups and the acceptance of their ideology and narrative by a considerable percentage of our population.

A counter terrorism strategy not addressing the root causes of terrorism and extremism will be at best a terror management strategy that may stabilize the situation temporarily.

A counter terrorism strategy, therefore, should have long term, medium/short term and immediate strategic objectives, media strategy, relevant foreign policy objectives and a credible counter narrative.

Long term policy objectives should aim at inclusive and distributive socio- economic policies, education/madrassa reforms, restructuring of state institutions, population control/management, elimination of political interference, speedy and free justice, electoral and judicial reforms, and control of mafias and cartels.

Medium and short term objectives should include police and intelligence agencies reforms, anti-terrorism legislation, creation of a Counter- Terrorism Force (CTF) with integral intelligence capability, a prosecution branch under a unified command structure at the federal level with authority and capability to operate and act immediately throughout Pakistan on actionable intelligence. This force must be equipped with the latest intelligence gathering gadgets and weapons and equipment. The success of the CTF will depend upon the quality of actionable intelligence, its quick reaction capability, political non- interference and targeting the nexus of corruption, politically backed and organized crimes and terrorism.

A proactive media policy must be formed to educate the people, counter hostile propaganda and disseminate our own narrative in a transparent and credible manner. The media must not provide a propaganda forum to terrorists and their sympathizers.

The immediate objective of elimination/weakening of TTP and other terrorist groups is achievable with the military and police operations in the country. However, permanent and sustainable solution can only be achieved through the long term strategic objectives with in an overall National Security Policy which must address the root causes of terrorism and extremism in the society in its entirety. This will require a national consensus, political/national will and above all the leadership beyond personal economic/political interests with vision, capability and determination.

Mian Muhammad Siddique,


Memory of a massacre



February 25, 1992 is one of the worst days in the history of Azerbaijan. It was the day of Khojaly genocide.

It’s an event that would go down in the annals of history as a brutal act of terrorism that has no parallel. Human history is replete with tragedies that have struck defenseless civilian population in times of war and peace, but the massacre that took place in Khojaly sent shivers down the spine of the civilized world.

Khojaly is an Azerbaijani town strategically located in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. In 1992, when the brutal genocide occurred, the population of the town was a little over 7,000 people. The Khojaly genocide was, in fact, a planned murder of innocent civilians (men, women and children) by the heartless Armenian forces. On the night of February 25, 1992, the Armenian forces, with help from Russian troops, invaded the village.

This ill-fated village had been under siege since October 1991. On the tragic evening of February 25, the Armenian forces pounced on the village with heavy and incessant gunfire that engulfed the entire town with fire in the morning of February 26. That was the time when the peaceful inhabitants of the terror-struck village fled the town in fear to save their lives. According to figures quoted in different segments of the media and other sources, roughly 2,500 civilians remaining in the village left their territory with the hope to reach Agdam. It is believed that 613 out of these 2,500 had fallen victim to the enemy fire.

The civilized world and different international human rights organizations condemned and continues to lambast the brutalities committed by the Armenian forces on the innocent civilians of Khojaly in the strongest terms. The Human Rights Watch described the Khojaly massacre as “the largest massacre to have been committed to date in the conflict” over Nagorno-Karabakh. Memorial, the Moscow-based human rights group, stated in its report that the acts of the Armenian forces were in utter violation of a number of fundamental international human rights conventions. Estimating the number of the civilians killed in the massacre, Human Rights Watch stated that “there are no accurate figures for the number of Azeri civilians killed because Karabakh Armenian forces gained control of the area after the massacre”.

A 1993 report of the Human Rights Watch put the number of deaths to at least 161, although later reports state the number of deaths to minimum 200.

On February 2, 2012 the Mexican Senate passed a resolution that described the February 25-26, 1992 Khojaly massacre as an act of genocide. In the same year, the Foreign Relations Committee of the Senate of Pakistan also passed a resolution condemning the brutal massacre of innocent civilians in Khojaly. Several other countries of the world have followed suit. They have profoundly condemned the atrocities committed by the merciless Armenian forces on unarmed and innocent men, women and children in Khojaly. Time has come for the civilized world to raise concern forcefully to bring the culprits of the Khojaly massacre to book.

M Fazal Elahi,


Grave matter



I would like to draw your attention towards a serious social issue. I am living in the F block of Johar Town, Lahore, opposite the Samsani graveyard. I have been living here for the last eight years. The government has allocated a huge area for the graveyard, but the same has been used by the youngsters for their sports activities since long.

Now, the cemetery is being filled up with graves very rapidly and the sports area is shrinking. The graveyard is located adjacent to the F, F1 and F2 blocks. There is sufficient area in the corner adjacent to F and F2 blocks that can be converted into a playground.

There are already very limited opportunities for healthy activities for young people. I request the authorities to consider the following.

Please visit the area, especially on a Saturday or Sunday, and note the sports activities in this particular area. Please note the type of youngsters who come here. They belong to middle or lower middle class, and cannot afford the expenses of gymnasiums and especially the nearby sport complex of LDA. The graveyard is presently expanding unplanned, the areas between the graves are left unutilized, and this has speeded up the process. At present there are two mosques in two differ corners. One corner is being utilized as a nursery for plants. If we could allocate the fourth corner to a playground, which is the corner of F and F2 blocks, the whole area could become a beautiful combination of social activities.

Haroon Rashid,





There have been media reports of several new world records being created in Pakistan, monitored by the Guinness Book of World Records, while this country has notoriety of ranking at bottom of list for all socio economic indicators. We hold world records in illiteracy, poverty and child mortality, we have among the lowest tax-to-GDP ratio, and are becoming a nursery for the spread of polio, hepatitis, and tuberculosis.

Our ruling elite seems to be totally undeterred by the recent spate of terrorist attacks, secured in their bunkers, while their children and their assets have already been relocated to safe foreign havens.

It seems that those in power have forgotten that before they took over in 2013, their predecessors had established another world record, with the PIA being declared the airline having the highest employee to serviceable aircraft ratio (based on average serviceable fleet for the past 24 months, which includes all cadres – pilots, cabin crew, engineers, technicians, sales, traffic, and administration staff).

This government, perhaps motivated by the desire not to be left behind by their predecessors, has in the last week of February promoted another nine executives, resulting in another World Record of more than 17 senior corporate directors for a serviceable fleet of under 25 aircraft, almost triple number of senior executives in Southwest Airlines with its fleet of 694 aircraft, 44,831 employees and 97 destinations. Southwest has a chairman, one senior Executive VP and three Executive VP on its payroll.

This record will be hard to beat.

Ali Malik,


Law of land



The terrorist attack on a court complex in Islamabad amounts to challenging the writ of the state, and those responsible for this dastardly deed must be given exemplary punishment to serve as a deterrent.

Our tolerance for such abuses by armed gangs and private militia has encouraged the growth of a criminal economy to nurture and entice religious extremists. We are more responsible for the sad state of affairs than our external enemies, because of our tolerance for such acts and our lack of will to enforce laws.

For a sovereign modern state with a functional democracy and a written constitution, the four most important institutions necessary for the writ of the state to be exercised area: a powerful tax collection system, an independent judiciary, a parliament and an executive. Without the collection of taxes from all citizens earning above a certain threshold, the system collapses from within, unable to provide security of life and property of its citizens, enforcement of laws, provision of justice, equal rights, equal opportunities and a system of checks and balances through strict regulatory controls.

Countries can exist without a uniformed army, provided they maintain neutrality and are surrounded by neighbors who do not harbor ill-will against them, but not without a powerful independent functional judiciary.

Tariq Ali,